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Kuala Lumpur - M2 + Kodak Tmax400

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by nickthetasmaniac, Jul 7, 2015.

  1. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac SC Veteran

    201
    Jan 20, 2014
    Launceston & Sydney
    Nick Clark
    Hi all, I've been very busy recently with study, work and travel, but I would like to finally share some of my street photography from Kuala Lumpur. This is the fourth time I've been to KL with my partner, who grew up in Petaling Jaya and whose family still live in USJ, and the first time I've felt like I was starting to get a feel for the city.

    I shot the whole trip on film (the first time I've done so) with a Leica M2, Voigtländer 35/f2.5 Color Skopar and 50/f1.5 Nokton, and Leica 90/f2.8 Tele Elmarit. I mostly used Kodak Portra160 and Tmax400, with a single roll each of Portra800 and Fujifilm Pro400H. I used a Sekonic L308s light meter and carried it all in a Domke F10 bag. Generally I was really happy with the gear - everything got used, nothing broke, and there was nothing I felt like I was missing. The only thing I noticed was that the F10 didn't offer a way to organise my film (separating the exposed and fresh rolls, and separating the lot from my other bits and pieces). Not a major quibble, but obviously something I'd never noticed with digital kit, and a consideration for my next bag (any excuse for a new bag... :drinks:). Interestingly, shooting solely with a fully mechanical, meter-less, 35mm rangefinder proved easier than expected - I think limiting myself to film, rather than shooting both 35mm and digital, allowed me to slip into a shooting happy place, rather than getting distracted by various formats.

    Here's a collection of b&w, thanks for looking and I hope you enjoy!

    Cheers, Nick

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  2. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    Oh those are great. So glad you posted them. And even though what you did (shoot only film on a vacation) is what EVERYONE used to do, now that there is digital, it takes some courage. I'm not sure I could do it.
     
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  3. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac SC Veteran

    201
    Jan 20, 2014
    Launceston & Sydney
    Nick Clark
  4. Pretty nice street shots.
     
  5. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Some nice shots. I sometimes think it would be fun to buy an old film Nikon FE or something (probably cost less than $100) and shoot a few rolls of B&W film. But without a darkroom (or access to one) anymore, I think I'd hate it. And even if I had access to one, I think it would just remind me how much more fun and less work digital is. But I admire those who still do it. There is a certain purity to having made almost all of the important decisions before you take the shot...

    -Ray
     
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  6. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac SC Veteran

    201
    Jan 20, 2014
    Launceston & Sydney
    Nick Clark
    Less work certainly, but is digital really more fun?
     
  7. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    I shoot both, and for me, yes, digital is more fun. The results are just so much better than what I can get from 35mm film, or 120, due mostly to the old Yashica A's lens quality, which is just ok. I love the process of shooting film, and the tonality of some film stock is wonderful. I like it enough to keep doing it, but there's no contest for me. The XT1 is a better tool, for me.
     
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  8. Tilman Paulin

    Tilman Paulin SC Top Veteran

    682
    Nov 15, 2011
    Dublin, Ireland
    I believe as soon as you focus on one thing it will very likely become "more fun" at some point.
    With any technology you have to learn about a certain amount of technical hurdles initially, but once you're past that point it's going to be good :)

    Great set Nick! Resisting the temptation to mix digital and film has paid off in my opinion!
     
  9. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Sue
    Those are wonderful, Nick! Lovely constrasty shots, now I've got the urge again!! (Glances at old ratty Minolta 303)
     
  10. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Well, the shooting is only a bit more fun because you're less constrained, you can change ISO (or let the camera do it) for a given shot, rather than a whole roll, you don't even have to think too much about whether you're shooting in B&W or color because you can let the photo tell you that later, and you don't have to worry about the cost of burning up film and chemicals (or processing costs if you're not doing it yourself). So you can just shoot as much or as little as you want.

    But the big thing for me is in the processing, where yeah it's WAAAAAAY more fun. To me at least. I never learned to process color at all in the film days and yet with digital I got pretty proficient pretty quickly and now I can even get creative with it. And I spent my life processing B&W stuff in darkrooms and the amount of work you had to do on a given print to make essentially minor changes and get them just right was pretty intense. And then unless you're Ansel Adams and documented every minute detail of how you made your best print, good luck making ANOTHER one! With digital I can do almost anything I ever used to be able to imagine with B&W, and make the decisions about what's gonna work best for a given shot after the shot is in the camera. The result of this is I produce consistently better (often much better) results with digital than I ever did with film. The "seeing" and framing and the act of getting the shot is only a bit different, but everything from that point forward I find far more enjoyable and rewarding with digital.

    I guess ultimately I do just find the power and flexibility of digital to be a lot more fun, a little bit while shooting and a LOT while processing. I realize this is just my opinion and not any type of universal, but it's a strongly held opinion, having shot plenty of both over about half a century...

    -Ray
     
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  11. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 SC Top Veteran

    537
    Feb 6, 2015
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    Nice stuff. The first one really stands out for me in the series.


    Thanks for sharing.
     
  12. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac SC Veteran

    201
    Jan 20, 2014
    Launceston & Sydney
    Nick Clark
    Thanks all for your thoughts, and Ray, Ramsey and Tilman especially - I've been pondering film and digital (I hesitate to say film versus digital as for me they play different rolls) for a while now and it's interesting to get others' perspectives.

    I agree - in my case the files I get from my Ricoh GR are certainly 'better' than what I can get from the M2 (or Pentax MX, which is the other film body I have in rotation). To be honest, for my use I can't imagine ever needing technical image quality greater than the GR.

    The shift I've noticed over the past 6 months of shooting primarily with the M2 is that I'm not actually particularly bothered by image quality, which surprised me a little. Well, image quality is still a concern, but the parameters I use for judging it have changed. I've began to realise that for what I'm trying to communicate with photography I don't need perfect sharpness or resolution, or a super clean image. I love the way decent b&w and colour negative films render and I find this suits my style.

    For me the GR is certainly a more capable tool than the M2, although I do wonder if any of the shots above would be 'better' if they'd been captured on a GR, or something like a Leica Q?

    I wonder if this is in part a generational thing? I'm 28 and have been shooting for about 10 years now, meaning that I developed photographically with digital very much the norm.

    For me moving away from the convenience of digital, both in terms of capture and processing, and exploring the 'mystery' of film has been fascinating, and I've found the process itself probably more enjoyable that the results. In this sense I think the M2 was a good choice, using a camera that only allows adjustments to aperture and shutter has been incredibly refreshing.

    In terms of the Malaysia trip, spending a couple of weeks shooting but never once looking at an LCD or computer screen was a really nice change :)
     
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  13. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Yeah, the generational thing, and past experience thing, probably plays into it. I had a pretty long and intense period with B&W film. And a bit of color too, but that stuff I dropped off at the corner store for "processing" so the "artistic" stuff I processed/printed myself was B&W. And then I pretty much dropped it all and became a family snap-shooter with various film and then digital point and shoots. By the time I got heavily back into digital, it was pretty far along in terms of quality and in terms of quality processing software. So I was mostly a bystander for the early, lower quality, days of digital. And coming from that background to that relatively advanced point with digital evolution, digital was a godsend - just a total joy and pleasure relative to the memories I have of long and often frustrating nights in the darkroom. Not to mention the technical quality of modern digital is pretty overwhelming - you can always add grain if you want it with a DF file, but you can't take it out of Tri-X 400 pushed to 800 or higher.

    I can imagine if I'd come into it when everything was digital, I'd want to give film a try and I imagine I'd enjoy the different experience. For a while, at least. But given how much time I've already spent in both formats, I think if I went back to film now I'd probably shoot about 5 rolls and come screaming back to digital... And the bottom line is I don't have any desire to try...

    BTW, I don't look at the LCD much on my DF at all, just an occasional menu change. But probably less frequently than I'd be changing rolls of film in terms of interacting with the back of the camera. But, yes, simplicity is nice in it's own right...

    -Ray
     
  14. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    I think the answer is "no not really," the shots above wouldn't be improved via a GR. I think they're gorgeous and evocative now. For me, it's the other shots that I didn't take at all because ... film that would've been better on a digital tool. I shoot so much less with film, and even when I just sorta relax / go for it / burn through 10 shots in one scene chasing the moment, I'm unable to deny digital's advantage there.
     
  15. KillRamsey

    KillRamsey SC Hall of Famer

    Jun 20, 2012
    Cambridge, MA
    Kyle
    Having said that, I go out and buy Ektar and TMax, and giddily load them into an old Minolta still. And when I get back a few keepers on each roll, the thrill is pretty great.
     
  16. drd1135

    drd1135 SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    Yeah, for me it is. Just more control over those things that annoy me.
     
  17. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac SC Veteran

    201
    Jan 20, 2014
    Launceston & Sydney
    Nick Clark
    There's certainly truth to that, but in my case I've realised I just don't really care... I'm not a pro, I don't earn a living from photography, and there's enough amazing work out there that if I miss a moment it's not going to mean the end of the world.

    Oddly, most of the things that annoy me about digital relate to having things complicated by too much control :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2015
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  18. drd1135

    drd1135 SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    It's a hard balance. If you are used to darkroom work, PS can be liberating. Using the camera is still aperture, speed, &iso.
     
  19. Archiver

    Archiver SC Top Veteran

    618
    Jul 11, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    Firstly, thank you to Nick for posting these fascinating images. I like the way you use shapes and silhouettes, like with the people on the walkway and staircase.

    As for the usual 'film vs digital' debate, I can only say that my emotional attachment to film and it's properties is outweighed by the convenience and overall flexibility of digital. I love the look of film but prefer to shoot digital for many reasons. We now have access to cameras that handily beat film in most aspects of image quality, and can manipulate their images to a huge extent. We can create infinite identical copies of digital images and keep them safe in a myriad of ways. We can have digital images ready for viewing in an instant. We know when and sometimes where any given image was taken. As much as I would love to shoot an all-film holiday, these things keep me from doing so.
     
  20. shaolinchris

    shaolinchris SC Regular

    30
    Aug 5, 2014
    Los Angeles / Copenhagen
    Chris
    This is great! I came back from KL a couple weeks ago and after reading this post, I wish I had brought some film along. Shooting the streets of KL would've been fun indeed.